To cater to his family of four, 2 children and his wife, Ben had to undertake 12 hour shifts driving cabs apart from working part-time at the docks. This, he had to do all 7 days a week, to keep himself marginally above the lines of poverty. He slept a bare minimum of 4-5 hours each day & spent whatever little time left with his kids & wife. He loved them very much and was determined to look after them in the best way he could.
Being a cab driver in a big city was no easy job. Apart from the crazy traffic, he sometimes had to handle customers, who for some reason decide to take out their frustrations on him, being rude and abusive. It was a Friday night, and Ben, after undergoing the usual stress, still had a couple of hours left on his shift.
“Queens, please. And make it as quick as possible!!”
Ben looked at the mirror to find a middle aged woman, on the backseat. She was wearing an all-black dress, with her hair tied up neatly. To Ben, she looked like an executive, working in one of those tall buildings, drawing exorbitant salaries. He wants his children grow-up and become one of her kind.
“Where exactly in Queens?”
“The Hospital” the lady replied. “And please make it quick” she said, as she kept looking at the watch on her wrist.
“What happened? I hope it’s not an emergency” asked Ben, trying to make some small talk, as he pulled out onto the busy road.
“That’s none of your business. Just keep doing what you ought to do, and get me there fast” the lady said, all the while, looking very worried.
“Sure. We will be there in less than 20 minutes” he said, pressing the gas pedal, gunning the engine towards the destination.
The rest of the journey was made in absolute silence, except for the noise made by incessant traffic.
Just before the cab came to a stop near the hospital, the lady passed a 50 dollar bill to Ben, jumped out onto the curb & disappeared without collecting the change.
“What a strange lady!!” though Ben and was about to resume his shift, when he noticed something on the backseat. He got out of the driver’s seat and stepped out to check whatever it was. It was a grey plastic bag held together by a couple of rubber bands. When he took off the rubber bands, and pulled off the plastic bag, he saw a couple of bundles of 100 dollar bills. It easily could be 50,000 dollars.
“That poor lady must have left this in a hurry. I must return it to her” though Ben. He hurried inside the hospital & went straight to the reception desk. Upon inquiring for a middle-aged lady in a black dress, all he got back was a negative response from the bust receptionist. He went about inquiring a few other random people in the lobby, but couldn’t get anyone to agree to have seen any such person.
Disheartened, Ben went back to the cab, and sat inside, deciding to stay put there until he located the lady. He was very tired, and was fighting desperately to keep awake. He lost the fight and sleep finally overtook his body.
He woke up with a start, hoping to see himself inside his cab parked near the hospital. Instead, he was in his bed, and his wife was standing beside him. She had a look of surprise on her.
“What happened? Did you have a nightmare?” she asked, genuinely concerned for Ben.
For a couple of moments, he remained confused, until he realized that it was all a dream. There was no lady, no hospital & certainly no 100 dollar bundles. His mind was just playing tricks on him.
“It’s nothing dear” he said. “What do we have for breakfast?”
After breakfast, Ben dropped off his children to school and went about doing his daily chores. He hoped to finish his shift early today. He had even decided to skip his shift at the docks tonight, to be with his wife & kids. After all, it was his anniversary and needed some much needed break as well from the gruelling schedule.
It was just getting dark, when he decided to call it a day, when someone got into the backseat and said “To the hospital at Queens, please. And make it as quick as possible!!”
A glance backwards revealed a lady dressed in all-black with a package in her hand.
It just seemed all too familiar to him.....